Ngawang Phulchung, one of the longest serving Tibetan imprisoned for counter-revolutionary crimes, has been released after 18 years of captivity.
Phulchung, a former monk of the Drepung Monastry, was detained in 1989 after being found guilty of ‘forming a counter revolution organisation, spreading counter revolution propaganda, passing information to the enemy and crossing the border illegally and spying.’
He was identified as the leader of a ‘counter-revolutionary clique’ dubbed the ‘Group of Ten’, with 9 other fellow Drepung monks. All members of the group were arrested in 1989 and sentenced publicly on television with the Chinese authorities pronouncing “Let the sentence of Ngawang Phulchung serve as a stern warning for separatist both at home and abroad that those who split the motherland will come to no good end.”
During his sentence, reports stated he was beaten unconscious by the Chinese army during his sentence for protests against prison conditions and was subject to solitary confinement for long periods.
According to information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Phulchung was released around October 2007 and was the last of the ‘Group of Ten’ to be freed by the Chinese government. He is reported to be with his family in Toelung Dechen County but in poor health due to the torture, squalor conditions and inhumane treatment he has suffered.